Santa Paula Times

SPHS exhibit at SPUOM: 'Household Amusements' show simpler but showier times

October 08, 1999
Santa Paula News
Heritage Festival visitors who flocked to the Santa Paula Union Oil Museum for the Quilt Show had a double treat when they encountered an exhibit that shows favored family pastimes in more genteel times. The Santa Paula Historical Society's exhibit, "Household Amusements in the 1890s" is a salute of sorts to the millennium, showing how far we haven't come at least when it comes to gracious living.The Hengehold Gallery is full of lovingly kept items reflecting the different cultures that made - and continue to make - Santa Paula rich in tradition and beauty.Each of several small areas are devoted to providing a glimpse into the households and lives of those that lived in the Santa Paula area near the turn of the century and offers insights to how they spent their time in parlors set-aside for family and visitors.The parlors have been patterned after photographs that show many of the vintage items included in the exhibit. Victorian treasures like a stereopticon viewer (at the time a must-have item) offering tiny scenes of the Paris Exposition as well as rich fiesta dresses - ready to be donned for a night of fun - are featured in the different parlors.Each parlor reflects a riches of interests and memorabilia that dazzles: photos, books and keepsake treasures, the latter including "practical" items like a porcelain chocolate pot, an antique beauty.Music was dominate in Santa Paula households and the array of instruments is impressive, as are the magazines - including those that focus on fashion - and books that showed residents were sophisticated in their interests. Collections were also revered, whether they be Chumash arrowheads common to the river valley - to be enjoyed with a cigar from the formidable humidor - or the photos taken with the family's own Kodak.
Mexican families brought a touch of bright color and lush fabrics to their homes, woven and crocheted shawls showing appreciation of beauty. . .wooden utensils and a chocolate pot are close by in case a special treat is needed.The amazing thing about the exhibit is the remarkable condition of the items displayed, not looking brand new but cherished and pampered for a century."Household Amusements in the 1890s" fills the small exhibit space with a wonderfully arranged peek into the past.For more information, call the Santa Paula Union Oil Museum, 933-0076.